- Reconfigure the power play. It's 0 for 15. While they've generated some shots and had some good chances, it's not working. So here's the deal: take Evgeni Malkin (who's slumping enough) off the point, a position he is uncomfortable in and doesn't like playing. As revolutionary as it sounds, balance it out and put him on the second unit. He seems to create more chances away from Sidney Crosby, despite their combined immense talent.
So here's how we'd line them up.
--Gary Roberts has some spunk in him and nobody competes harder in front of the net. Put him there. Ryan Whitney should get back on the top unit, his chemistry with Crosby is there and it ill work.
--Sergei Gonchar can handle the whole two minutes, but if he needs a breather tossing a guy like Brooks Orpik (with size, a decent pass and good defensive ability if the powerplay ends) would be acceptable too. The forwards are the guys that carried the team when Crosby was done and know how to get the puck in.
- Devise breakouts better. Detroit's strategy is to clog the neutal zone with as many bodies as they can. They throw complicated looks when defensemen like Niklas Kronwall or Brad Stuart jump in to make a big hit and smart forwards like Dan Clearly or Mikael Samuelsson seamlessly fall back into their spots. To combat this the Pens need their own diversions. Defensemen need more options to move the puck. The forwards need to move more than just straight up the ice and more laterally. This requires a lot of effort and moving the legs a lot, something the Pens haven't done well.
- Early shots, early pressure. Can't go that long against Detroit without registering shots. They fall into their workman-like, mechanized system and execute it to a T. The Pens will have the natural advantage of their own crowd, plus the last change to force the issue. Detroit won't be too concerned about matchups, but getting favorable starts of shifts for Crosby or Malkin might mean getting more chance. Which have to end up in the net sooner or later, right?
Of course, all of this is much easier said than done. Good luck, boys.